Durian was believed to be from the region of Borneo and Sumatra, they grew wild along the Malay peninsula, and was commonly cultivated in a wide region from India to New Guinea.
400 years ago, it was traded across present-day Myanmar, and was actively cultivated especially in Thailand and South Vietnam.
The earliest known European reference to the durian is the record of Niccolò Da Conti, who travelled to Southeastern Asia in the 15th century. The Portuguese Physician Garcia de Orta also described durians in an article that he published in 1563.
In 1741, the German botanist Georg Eberhard Rumphius published a book, which provide detailed and accurate account of durians for over a century.
During the early stages of its taxonomical study, there was some confusion between durian and the soursop, for both of these species had thorny green fruit. It is also interesting to note the Malay name for the soursop is Durian Belanda, meaning Dutch durian.
In the 18th century, Johann Anton Weinmann considered the durian to belong to Castaneae as its fruit was similar to the horse chestnut.
Durian had also been planted in the Americas but confined to botanical gardens. The first seedlings were sent from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to Auguste Saint-Arroman of Dominica in 1884.
In southeastern Asia, the durian has been cultivated for centuries at the village level, probably since the late 18th century, and commercially since the mid-20th century.
In My Tropic Isle, Australian author and naturalist Edmund James Banfield tells how, in the early 20th century, a friend in Singapore sent him a durian seed, which he planted and cared for on his tropical island off the north coast of Queensland.
Since the early 1990s, the domestic and international demand for durian in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region has increased significantly, partly due to the increasing affluence of Asia.